Federal, state and local authorities are investigating after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported alleged animal neglect at the Oklahoma zoo tied to Netflix’s “Tiger King” series.
“Animals that are injured are receiving veterinarian care in isolation and are being monitored by USDA [the U.S. Department of Agriculture],” according to Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
PETA released images of young lions suffering from an affliction called “flystrike” after the animal rights organization said it received them from a whistleblower.
The condition occurs when flies bite animals and lay eggs — and then the hatching maggots gnaw away at their skin, according to a press release. It usually occurs under unclean conditions.
In a Facebook post, Mullett’s office said it had received “numerous calls” about the zoo and its animals. He said that at his request, the USDA and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife have visited the park and that investigations were ongoing.
In a follow-up post, the sheriff’s department said at least two cats had been removed from the property and that “charges need to be filed.”
A young lion with its ears covered in flies. (Courtesy: PETA)
The images were taken at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, according to PETA. The facility is also known as G.W. Zoo. The property had belonged to Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
“The USDA’s inaction allowed ‘Joe Exotic’ to abuse and neglect animals for years, and so far, it’s also failed to help the big cats held by Jeff Lowe,” PETA attorney Brittany Peet said in a statement.
(Jeff Lowe assumed control of the big cat zoo from Joe Exotic before a judge granted ownership to rival Carole Baskin. (Taylor Lowe))
The park has more recently been operated by Jeff Lowe, another star of the “Tiger King” series, but a federal judge granted control of the property to rival Carole Baskin on June 1.
Lowe told Fox News in early June that the judge had given him 120 days to vacate the property. He plans to bring his animals to a new, larger facility.
A juvenile lion shown with open wounds on its ears, believed to be caused by “flystrike.” (Courtesy: PETA)
“We’re relocating approximately 200 cats and 200 other species — camels, zebras, monkeys, wolves, bears, emus,” he said. “It’ll be a full-blown zoo. I’m stoked about getting down there.”
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot that targeted Baskin.
Fox News’ Melissa Roberto contributed to this report.